American Idol: Orlando crushes Chicago

You surely would expect that Chicago would produce more contenders on “American Idol” than Orlando, right? Wrong. Orlando produced 31 Hollywood-bound singers than Chicago, which delivered 13 in two days. Whatever, once the Hollywood rounds begin we won’t remember where these folks auditioned unless Ryan Seacrest decides to remind us. So the guest judge was Kristin Chenoweth, at least for Day 1, and she had more spunk in her pinky than Shania Twain. Anyway, the producers showed us most of the good performances last night and not as many crappy ones, to which we say, BO-RING. Here they are…

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Sit Down, Shut Up”

Need a good reason to watch Fox’s upcoming new animated series, “Sit Down, Shut Up”? Hell, I’ll give you ten good reasons…with resumes that include “Pushing Daisies,” “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” “Arrested Development,” “Two and a Half Men,” and, uh, “Cavemen”…and they’re all labeled by name in the photograph below.

(L-R) Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Kenney, Nick Kroll, Will Arnett (who is standing in front of Cheri Oteri), Jason Bateman, and executive producers Josh Weinstein, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum and Mitch Hurwitz

Now, I ask you: how can you not want to watch “Sit Down, Shut Up”?

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the show, it’s based on a live-action Australian sitcom about a bunch of cranky, obnoxious, irresponsible teachers but has, over the course of several years of evolution, found its way into an animated adaptation instead, albeit one with live-action backgrounds.

“It’s changed so much, I guess we’re really wondering why we are still paying royalties to Australia,” admitted Hurwitz. “But we’re in over our heads at this point. There is no getting out of it.”

But why did they decide to switch it from live-action to animated in the first place?

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Old Show, New Season: “Pushing Daisies”

If the pilot for “Pushing Daisies” wasn’t the single best hour of television to emerge in the 2007 – 2008 fall TV season (and it wasn’t, because I still say that honor belongs to the pilot for “Reaper”), then it can at least be said with some confidence that it was the one which made the greatest visual impact, courtesy of its gorgeous colors. It also had a pretty damned unique premise, involving Ned (Lee Pace), a guy with the ability to bring dead people back to life – but only for a minute at a time, lest their return to life result in the death of someone else – who splits his time between making pies, solving crimes, and pining for Chuck (Anna Friel), a girl he can never touch. Oh, right: it also had a script that was sweet, sentimental, unexpectedly dramatic, and very, very funny.

Hmmm. Suddenly, I’m beginning to wonder if I need to go back and re-watch the “Reaper” pilot. Maybe I got this one wrong.

Nah, just kidding…but “Pushing Daisies” is a great show, and after having re-watched the entire first season on DVD, I found myself geared up to see where things were going to go with the series, especially after that bombshell they dropped in the season finale: that Aunt Lily (Swoosie Kurtz) is actually Chuck’s mother.

Season 2 kicks off with a considerable amount of catch-up, which only makes sense, given not only how complicated the series is but also how long it’s been since the show was last on the air. This is a good thing if you’ve heard lots of great stuff about the show but were concerned that you couldn’t possibly get into it at this late date. Believe me, this is about as good a summation as you could hope to receive…and while it’s stuff that the regular viewers will already know, they’ve managed to slide in a few new scenes here and there to keep it interesting for everyone.

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